Praise to the Most High God

I will give to the LORD 
the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD,
the Most High. (Psalm 7:17 ESV)

For the first time in the Psalms, beginning with Psalm 1, God is given thanks for whom He is, and is praised, honored and worshipped. Thanks means to laud and praise. David gives thanks to the LORD for His righteousnessPraise means to sing, make music. David sings devotions to the name, the reputation, of the LORD. Then he calls Him Most High, a name of God which means as high up in the ranks as any can attain. God is the only god and there is no other as high as He. He controls all created things, which is everything in the heavens and in eternity.

God’s name, the Most High, is first used in Genesis to describe the position held by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, before God. “He was priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18 ESV). David calls God Most High here and then again in Psalm 9:2. “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2 ESV). These two verses thank God and offer Him praise, honor and worship. In between Psalm 7:17 and 9:2 is Psalm 8, considered a Messianic Psalm, devoted to declaring the works and wonders of God and His favor toward Jesus Christ, His Son. This progression in the Psalms suggests the order in which they are delivered is vital to our understanding of who Jesus is, what He did and how He felt while living in a sinful world as a Man.

God alone can claim true righteousness. He alone can state those He has created are righteous. Those who intimately know Him understand that He is the source and foundation for their righteousness, even when they are surrounded and attacked by enemies who would harm them because of their relationship with God. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1 ESV). Jesus is both true God and true Man. As God He is the source of all righteousness. As a Man He recognized that in God alone would any person be declared righteous and be directed in the way of righteousness, as they live in the midst of those who are enemies of God. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). Those who follow Christ face the wrath of the world and the Deceiver. Following Christ brings God’s love and compassion. Christ gives His righteousness to those who are His, covering them so that God sees the righteousness of Christ and not the blackness of their sin. “The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8 ESV). His righteousness is given to those who are His and should bring shouts of thanksgiving and the joyful music. Those found in Christ, who take refuge in God, cannot be harmed by the Deceiver, those of the world and even their own sinful flesh. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV).

Who is the Most High? He is God and His Son is Jesus Christ. Gabriel came to Mary and told her God was blessing her and the world through her. She would give birth to the Son of God.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:31-35 ESV)

Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is fully God and fully Man. Scripture is filled with the evidence of His divinity. The most substantial evidence is His miracles and especially His resurrection from death. There are spiritual beings, fallen angels, who are demons, who recognized Jesus as God. “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’” (Luke 8:28 ESV; see also Matthew 8:9; Mark 1:24-27; Mark 5:6-8; Luke 4:33-36; Acts 16:16-18).  These demons do not submit with joy and worship but cringe in fear and loathing. Those who belong to God worship God with joy and thanksgiving because of all He has done and is doing.

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On Their Own Heads

He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends. 
(Psalm 7:15-16 ESV)

Those who rebel against God set themselves up for failure. People’s wants and desires are doomed to failure from conception through execution, even with the appearance of success. Nothing people can do will either hurt God or gain victory over Him. 

The illustration of digging out a pit shows the intent of making a trap to capture an animal or an enemy. Hunters would dig pits and cover the holes with camouflage so that an unsuspecting animal or enemy would fall into it and be unable to get out. Such traps, when they are designed to catch the people of God, backfire. Like the building of a physical trap to capture a physical body, mental and verbal traps are designed to capture a person in their words. The setting of the trap points to the hypocrisy of the one setting the trap.

Often, as Jesus went about His ministry, the religious leaders would try to trap Him in His words. “And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk” (Mark 12:13 ESV). They asked Him about paying taxes to Caesar. “But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it’” (Mark 12:15 ESV). Their plans challenged Jesus at every turn, waiting for Him to say something they could pounce on and use against Him. “As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11:53-54 ESV). Jesus would not be caught. Their plotting against Him revealed their hatred for God and their own willingness to subvert God’s laws to achieve their desires. The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. So eventually they manufactured a lie to use against Jesus. Doing this, they condemned an innocent man to death and then murdered Him the day before the Passover, the most religious holiday on their calendar.

God takes the devious plans of His enemies and makes them work against those who hate Him. He will capture them in their own trap. “Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you” (Psalm 5:10 ESV). The Psalmist tells us the wicked are pregnant with mischief (Psalm 7:14). Mischief means trouble, toil and labor with evil intent. Those who rebel against God, and teach and train others to do the same, work hard at creating and concocting the turmoil and discord they can use to subvert God’s authority. They think they are being shrewd in their planning and execution. They set themselves up to fail by working against God. “He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end” (Job 5:12-13 ESV). The person that conceives evil thoughts achieves evil consequences.

One of the greatest examples of evil planning gone wrong is in the book of Esther. Haman hated the Jews and especially hated Mordecai because he refused to bow before Mordecai. Haman plotted to destroy Mordecai, along with all the Jews of the Persian kingdom.

Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” (Esther 3:8-9 ESV)

Even though God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, the evidence of His work against the enemies of His people is evident. Haman planned to hang Mordecai. At the culmination of his evil plan, Haman was commanded by the king to honor Mordecai, the man he hated. Instead of hanging Mordecai, Haman was instructed to lead his enemy through the city, announcing to all people the honor the king bestows on those who are loyal to the king. After this humiliating event, Queen Esther revealed to the king Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. The king ordered Haman hanged. The gallows Haman built to hang Mordecai were used to hang him. Read Esther to discover how God took the evil plans of His enemies and turned them against those who hate Him.

Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is another example. Judas sold his teacher to the religious leaders so they could murder Him. Then Judas grieved over what he had done, without repenting. His guilt was so great he committed suicide.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5 ESV)

He fell into the pit he dug. He bore his own guilt. Jesus’ own words show the onerous sentence of he who would betray Him. “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24 ESV).

Pregnant

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil 
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies. (Psalm 7:14 ESV)
They conceive trouble and give birth to evil, 
and their womb prepares deceit. (Job 15:35 ESV)

There is a principle stated in this verse which works for good or for evil. It is the principle of creativity. Part of the image of God in Man is the ability to create, not ex nihilo, nor making a different substance out of an original substance, but the ability to think and find solutions to simple or vexing problems, to build and accomplish. When God created the universe, He created stuff out of nothing, ex nihilo. He then took that matter and energy which He created and from that stuff began forming other, different stuff. He created Man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). Jesus, showing He is God yet found in the flesh of a man, created wine out of water (John 2:1-12). Originally, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given control and dominion, part of the image of God, over the earth, to work it (Genesis 2:5) and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28).

There are three steps to the principle of creativity. A person conceives an idea, which means to bring forth. In this verse the word conceives means to pledge or bind, to spoil or corrupt or offend. Because it is a wicked person creating the idea, the idea itself is designed to corrupt and destroy, to be evil, which means trouble, sorrow and idolatry. The wicked person conceives evil.

In the second step the idolatrous idea moves into full pregnancy. Pregnant means to bear or be with child. The wicked idea grows from the smallest seed until it is ready to be launched into reality. During this time, the idea gains strength and maturity, growing in its respective parts to cause trouble and mischief

Finally, the idea is given birth, born, brought forth, ready to cause as much damage as possible. It is lies, deception, falsehood, fraud. All idols are frauds because they steal from God that which is only His.

We see this scene played out in the Garden of Eden. It is the Deceiver, who has inhabited a serpent, who comes to Eve and plants a seed of doubt. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV). Eve’s thinking was ready for this deception. She had been truthfully told by Adam, or told herself, that she could eat from any tree except the one tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The idea that she was to not touch the tree was not true. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:2-3 ESV). She added words to God’s statement. God never told Adam to not touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Those who add to God’s words are lying to themselves and believing the lie. The Deceiver planted the seed of the lie and Eve watered it with her own lies. The result was a superstitious and suspicious belief that God was withholding something good from her. Adam and Eve acted in a rebellious manner and committed idolatry. She ate from the tree and gave some to her husband, who also ate. They placed themselves above God.

God gives good not evil. The Deceiver wants only evil, to corrupt all that is good. The same progression of creativity seen in the Psalm 7 is given by James, who refers to temptation as the idea conceived by evil desires which becomes sin. 

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15 ESV)

Temptation does not have to result in sin or wickedness. Jesus was tempted and did not sin. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). God told Cain that sin wanted to own him and that he needed to war against the assault of sin. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Temptation does not mean sin will follow. Cain relinquished control of himself to sin because he wanted to retaliate against God for accepting his brother’s sacrifice and not his. People want to sin and allow temptation to gain control of them and inspire rebellious action.

Jesus is adamant in His declarations that sin is ingrained and pervasive, controlling and enslaving every fiber of a person’s being, both physical and spiritual. 

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:33-35 ESV).

Vocabulary of War

If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; 
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts. (Psalm 7:12-13 ESV)

Why would anyone want to invite the wrath of God upon themselves? Why would anyone willfully rebel against Him? This is exactly what both angels and people have done. God commands people to repent of their sin and rebellion against Him. God will establish the righteous after He tests their minds and hearts (Psalm 7:9 ESV). God commands people turn away from that which tempts and trains them to rebel, and turn toward Him. 

God demands repentance. God never asks people to repent. To repent is to turn, to come or go back, to lead away from one thing and toward another, to be restored. God makes repentance possible when He delivers over Jesus’ life as a means of righteously fulfilling the requirements of His law for those created in His image. God’s eternal compassion is on full display on the cross. “Turn,

O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). His enemies turn away from Him, ashamed by what they have done. “All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment” (Psalm 6:10 ESV). Either they turn to God at His command, or they turn away from God at His judgment.

God will not simply turn rebellious people away from His presence. He will fight and war against them. David uses words of war to describe God’s assault on those who actively rebel against Him and His authority. He will sharpen His sword, bend and make ready His bow, using arrows that are fiery shafts. God creates and implements new instruments of death, designed to kill, not maim. Those who are steadfast in their assaults and attacks will feel God’s full wrath.

Joshua faced the pre-incarnate Christ as he surveyed Jericho before the fall of the city. Joshua encountered a man standing with a drawn sword.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 

And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” 

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14 ESV)

Jesus, the Commander of the Lord’s Army, does not take sides between two warring factions of people. He stands for God against all sin. His mission, while living as a man, was to command people repent of their sin and turn toward God. Speaking about people who died by accident or by the hand of a despotic leader, Jesus tells those who are following Him, they must repent or they will also die a spiritual death. In Luke 13 He uses the same phrase twice. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5 ESV). Repentance is not an option. Repentance is commanded and obedience is expected.

The world carries superstitious opinions about God, believing the God of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, is a God of wrath, while Jesus, the God of the New Testament, is a God of love, peace and forgiveness. Scripture is filled with God’s compassion toward His people and wrath toward His enemies. Jesus did not come to bring peace to everyone. He came to separate those who are His from those who hate Him and rebel against Him. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34 ESV). Those who follow Jesus must pick up their cross, which is His cross, and be willing to die to this world to live for God. Those who hate Jesus will persecute those who walk with Him. Since they cannot persecute and murder God they will do what they can to those who are God’s. Even members of a family will fight against each other. “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39 ESV). Those who follow Christ must completely abandon themselves to Him. Obedience is expected and carries no merit before God. Disobedience brings God’s wrath.

War terminology is used in this Psalm because we are engaged in war. Those who hate God, His enemies, want to destroy all God has created and subvert all God’s purposes for His creation. The Deceiver does not care about winning, knowing he has already lost the war. Those people who fight against God think they can win. Their view of God is superstitious and unreasonable. God fights for Himself, not for us. Yet, we receive the benefit of His compassion and mercy, freely given though our time in this world.

Just and Righteous

God is a righteous judge, 
and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 ESV)

Psalm 7 poetically presents as a closing statement in a legal trial with God as the presiding judge. God is both just and righteousness. He is just in that He adheres to and upholds the laws of His nature and those laws which He has put in place to govern His creation. He is righteous in that He lives perfectly according to His laws and expects His creation to follow those laws. In the beginning, God created people and endowed them with His image, which gives them the tools needed to know, understand and act according to the nature of God in their every endeavor. Man, Adam and Eve, and all who follow, rebel against God, refusing to acknowledge Him as the eternal Lawgiver and breaking His laws. Since the laws broken are based upon Himself, He is the only One with the authority to judge those who broke the laws. “God is a righteous judge”  (Psalm 7:11 ESV).

God blesses the Righteous Man whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV). As the eternal government of His creation, God judges the kings and rulers of the world who teach and train their people to rebel against Him by enthroning His King, His Son, Jesus Christ. “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:6 ESV). Those found in Christ, His righteous King, who take refuge in Him are declared righteous and comprise the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Does God feel? Does God have emotions? Can we understand His emotions as we understand ours? God feels indignation every dayIndignation is anger, an expression of irritation and rage, a defiant posture, a denouncement and curse. God is enraged at the violation of His law, which is a direct assault on His character and being. There is never a moment in space-time history where God relaxes His hatred for sin. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV).

Jesus felt. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He showed His physical anger over the desecration of the temple by the religious leaders who allowed merchants in the temple courts (John 2:15; Matthew 21:13). He condemned the religious leaders for their hypocritical lives (Matthew 23). He felt deep emotions at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). He had compassion on the hungry, the sick, the disabled, the demon possessed and the dead. Jesus, as Man, felt the full range of emotions given all people. Emotions are part of the image of God in Man, therefore, God also has and feels emotions. The difference is between us and God is neither God nor Jesus as a Man is corrupted by sin. Their emotions are pure and righteous. Our emotions are tainted by sin.

God hates evil and sin yet loves the one who commits evil and sins. His compassion for the sinful does have a boundary yet knows no end. Those who continue to reject Him, even after receiving the grace of His forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ, have no other path into His presence.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

As part of the image of God, our emotions are directional and like warning flags, which tell people when they are in God’s will or tempted to sin against God. Those who take refuge in God may feel joy and love toward God. Those who are facing temptation or have fully embraced sin, feel fear and anger and guilt. Many philosophies have taught we should not trust our emotions. When corrupted by sin, nothing we do conforms to the original intent God had for Man, including our emotions. Those filled with the Holy Spirit have an Interpreter who directs and confronts and counsels the citizen of His kingdom. We are given spiritual tools in the image of God. We are given the Holy Spirit, who is God Himself, embedded in a recreated being stuck in a sinful physical body.

God wants those who are His to hate sin as much as He hates sin. We are to hate sin in the world and to hate sin in those who exist around us. We are to hate sin in ourselves and purge sin from our lives. At the same time, we are to love those who are in the world, created in the image of God and loved by Him. We are to hate sin every day. We hate sin because He hates sin.  Conversely, like God, we are to love people as He loves them. We can only accomplish this though the work of the Holy Spirit giving us the discernment we need to recognize sin yet love those who sin, who are created in God’s image.

Shield of Faith

My shield is with God, 
who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:10 ESV)

True faith in God is one of the major themes of the Psalms and of Scripture. God draws those who are His into His refuge, protecting them and then, in eternity, removing them from the assaults of His enemies. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV). God’s protection comes through faith. Faith is believing the evidence of God’s work, trusting Him to deliver on His promises, and obeying His commands. Believing is an action of the mind or the intellect. Trusting is an action of the moral-emotional self. Obeying is an action of the will. The whole person is involved in the act of faith. Jesus embodied true faith as both God and Man in the flesh, the way God intended from creation.

As Jesus walked through His ministry, He fully obeyed God’s will. Jesus found security in nothing provided by or found in the world. A shield is a buckler, a small, round piece of armor carried to protect the person from the attacks of an enemy. David used the word to describe God’s protection even when surrounded by an overwhelming force. Jesus, when standing trial before the three worldly judges, the Religious leaders, Herod and Pilate, trusted God. Though He died, God lifted up His head from death. “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3 ESV). Abraham was credited with righteousness, because he believed God, who kept His promises. God protected Abraham and his descendants, from whom Christ would descend. “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great’” (Genesis 15:1 ESV).

Only God saves those who are His from all enemies. God’s enemies pursue the life of the righteous to destroy them. To savemeans to be delivered or liberated, to be victorious in battle. Surrounded by sin and sinful people, and constantly tempted by the Deceiver, Jesus was relentlessly pursued by His enemies during His earthly ministry. His enemies continually sought something, anything they could use to destroy His influence and discredit His authority. “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me” (Psalm 7:1 ESV). God will not only deliver from the assault of the enemy, He strikes down those who wage war against Him. “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV). God has no obligation to save any who sin. He saves because of His love. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). God created people in His image for an intimate, eternal relationship with them. His love is eternal, evidenced by His mercy in sending His Son to die for sin and cover those who are His with His righteousness. God’s compassion is boundless.

Our actions, shown through our obedience to His commands, carry no merit before God. No one can work their way into heaven. God has no obligation to any person because of what they have done or will do, or who they are. 

Still, part of the image of God in Man is dominion. God gave man, Adam and Eve, dominion over His earthly creation. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). Dominion is control over a part of creation. Where man lived under God’s authority, the earth and all in it came under the authority of Man. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, He did not remove from them His image. Nor was His image in them corrupted. They were corrupted, the vessel which held the image of God, but His image remained whole and complete. Because of sin, no person exercises the image of God appropriately, or in a godly fashion.

Rebellion brought a war between the corrupted self, which wants control without God, and the image of God, which naturally wants to serve and obey God. Self wants all to focus all attention on self. God’s image wants the bearer to focus all attention upon God. The battle between the two forces is devastating. God’s image irresistibly draws every person toward God while the rebellious, sinful nature, drives away every person from God. We are our own worst enemy.God’s shield is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV). Nothing can remove those who are His from His presence. 

Established

Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, 
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 
(Psalm 7:9 ESV)

Those who seek God and His righteousness are often troubled in their souls, mourning over the presence and consequences of the sin the see in themselves and in the world in which they live. They know and love truth and hate and abhor evil. Their prayers echo the prayer of Jesus in the Psalms that evil and wickedness would come to an end. To endmeans to cease, be no more, fail, as well as complete. God promises that sin, wickedness and those who rebel against Him, who are sinful and wicked, will come to an end. The wicked person will not cease to exist but will cease corrupting God’s creation with their evil.

God spoke about what will happen to His sinful enemies. They are excluded from His eternal presence and with those whom He has declared righteous. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5 ESV). Those who continue to rebel, even after commanded to repent and turn toward God, are given a warning about what will happen if they do not submit and serve Jesus. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Those who do not repent, continuing to fight against Him, in word and action, are eternally silenced. “For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV). Those who would murder God, continually lying about Him, are consigned to a place of destruction, away from His presence. “You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6 ESV). Though Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for sin, the wicked reject the command of the Holy Spirit to accept and abide in His grace. The evidence of their rejection is their continued, blatant sin. “Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you” (Psalm 5:10 ESV).

The wicked will come to an end and He will establish the righteous. To establish means to make firm, to stabilize, to fix and secure, to make enduring. Those who are righteous in Christ will enter His presence in eternity and never again face the corruption of sin and rebellion.

God knows the difference between those who live and revel in their sin and those who are drawn into His presence, who take refuge in Christ. To test means to examine and prove, to be put on trial and thoroughly scrutinized. Only God knows intimately the thinking of the hearts of all people. He tests the minds and hearts. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6 ESV). Peering deeply into the hearts and intentions of all people, God knows and sees the difference between those who hate Him and those who love Him.

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:9-10 ESV).

Jesus knew the hearts of those around Him, who challenged His authority and sought to murder Him. When He saw the faith of those who brought a paralytic to Him to heal, He forgave the paralyzed man of his sin. This irked the religious leaders who watched. They knew only God could forgive sin. To them, Jesus was simply a man and, they thought, sinful. Jesus knew their hearts. “And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:3-4 ESV; see also Luke 5:22). Jesus then demonstrated His authority over sin by healing the man. Many people saw His miracles. They believed He could perform signs and wonders because they watched Him do great things. But, Jesus knew their hearts and that they sought only what they could control. Jesus would not allow anyone to control Him.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25 ESV)

God is righteous and knows those who have relinquished control to Him and are righteous because of His Son.